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Ready Player One Movie Review

Real or fantasy world? It’s your choice.

Reviewed by on Mar 28, 2018
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Ready Player One. Is this ultimate gamer movie for you? How awesome are the virtual reality scenes? Are the characters worth rooting for? Check our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In Ready Player One, it is 2045 and everyone but the ultra-rich live in slum-like conditions due to overpopulation, pollution, climate change and corruption. Teen gamer Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), gamer handle Parzival, spends most of his time hooked into The Oasis, the ultimate virtual reality platform where you can do or be anything. Wade/Parzival is a “Gunter”, (egg hunter) following a quest that can end in him finding the ultimate Easter egg that will make him the owner/operator of the entire Oasis, very happy and very rich.  Does he have a chance?

Can Samantha and Wade have a real world relationship?Can Samantha and Wade have a real world relationship?

The Set Up

In 2045, most of the population lives in slum-like cities of stacked trailer homes due to a ruined Earth. To escape their grim reality, people spend most of their time in the virtual reality world of the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), where they can be educated, work and mostly play in amazing VR environments. Hidden inside Oasis is "Anorak's Quest" created by the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the creator of OASIS. The first to find 3 keys and the Easter Eggs is promised full ownership of OASIS and a rich lifestyle.

Halliday's avatar AnorakHalliday's avatar Anorak

Gunters vs. the “Sixers”

This quest has drawn quite a few Gunters to play Halliday’s game, among them is Wade Watts/Parzival who lives in the stacks with his aunt. Also determined to win the game is Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the manufacturer of most virtual reality equipment. Its CEO, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) has gathered an army of indentured players, known as Sixers (due to their six-digit identification), to make sure he wins. However, after five years, no one has been able to complete the first quest, finishing a vehicle race across an ever-shifting dangerous cityscape that includes a dinosaur and King Kong!

The evil Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn)The evil Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn)

Level Up

Wade has semi-partnered with buddy/avatar Aech (later Lena Waithe) who has a killer workshop and serves as a virtual mechanic. Also in the group are Asian avatars Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao). Wade/Parzival is infatuated with female avatar Art3mis (later Olivia Cooke) who almost wins the race on a cycle. When it is destroyed, he takes her to Aech who repairs it. Parzival and Art3mis impress each other with their massive ‘80’s pop culture knowledge (Oasis creator Halliday grew up in the ‘80s and put this into the entire Oasis and his quest game).  Wade decides to study the virtual Oasis library to learn about Halliday's personal life in hopes of finding a hint to finish the race.

Parzival will drive his Delorean in the raceParzival will drive his Delorean in the race

The High Five

Wade learns that Halliday felt regret when he had to accept the resignation of his partner, Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), over personal matters with Halliday wishing he could “back up” and change this. Next time he races, Wade/Parzival reverses the DeLorean he drives from the start line. Driving backwards, he finds a hidden, safe path to the finish line and wins, getting the first of three keys from Halliday’s avatar Anorak. He gets a clue to the next quest. Art3mis sees and follows him becoming the 2nd place winner. Aech and brothers Daito and Shoto follow. The group becomes known as “The High Five”.

The High Five research Halliday's past for cluesThe High Five research Halliday's past for clues

Who Are You?

IOI and Sorrento are furious and decide to learn all of their real life identities. Bounty hunter avatar i-ROk ( T.J. Miller) overhears Wade tell Art3mis his real name and tells Sorrento. Meanwhile, Parzival/Wade has been able to purchase a top-of-the-line VR suit and various expensive weapons with his race winnings. There is a clue for the next jade key that indicates something about Halliday’s love for Morrow’s wife Kira. After i-ROk fails to kill Art3mis and Parzival at a dance club, Sorrento approaches Wade, telling him he now knows his real world identity and offers him a lucrative job with IOI. Wade refuses.

Bounty hunter I-ROkBounty hunter I-ROk


In retaliation for the refusal, Sorrento sends drones to destroy Wade's slum, killing Wade's aunt and her sleazy boyfriend. Wade, on the run, is rescued by Art3mis' real-life friends and taken to her Gunter hideout where he finally meets Art3mis' player, Samantha. She knows he loves her despite the fact that she has a large, wine-colored birthmark over one eye. The two learn more about Kira/Karen who later became Morrow’s wife. This leads them to the next quest. The High Five each win second quest keys and learn that the last quest will be at Castle Anorak on Oasis planet Doom.

Parzival watches Art3mis at the dance clubParzival watches Art3mis at the dance club


IOI kidnaps Samantha and she is taken to an indentured servant center and forced to work off debt as an IOI soldier. Wade is in Aech’s van with Daito and Sho’s real-world players. Wade helps Samantha get free but she stays to find out how to deactivate a force field erected by IOI surrounding the castle on Doom. No player can win if this can’t be brought down. Wade goes online and sends a message to all OASIS players about IOI's activities and convinces many to join the High Five to fight against IOI and the Sixers at the castle. With Samantha’s help, Parzival is able to enter the castle and discover the final quest, an Atari room where the IOI think tank is trying to figure out which old Atari 2600 game Halliday used. Picking the wrong one zeroes out the player. Can Parzival pick the right game?

Halliday and Morrow when they invented OASISHalliday and Morrow when they invented OASIS

Final Showdown

Will Samantha make it out of the IOI headquarters to rejoin the fight? Will Wade and the other High Fivers survive and get the final key? Will Sorrento destroy all avatars if he can’t win the game for IOI? Will Wade’s call for volunteers for a final battle be listened to? Will Wade and Samantha ever get to be a real world couple and what will happen to the Oasis?

Samantha (Olivia Cooke) inside IOI headquartersSamantha (Olivia Cooke) inside IOI headquarters

Wrapping Up

In Ready Player One, essentially, the future of civilization is riding on the outcome of a video game. The question we need to ask ourselves, especially in the chaotic and often depressing times we inhabit, is would we want to live our lives in an escapist setting or make the best of what real life has to offer and grow up to improve it?

Wade witnesses the stacks blown up by SorrentoWade witnesses the stacks blown up by Sorrento

The movie contains quite a few changes from the novel but the very basic story remains intact. In either world, the story is rich but the film still moves rapidly. For those of us alive and thinking in the 1980’s, Ready Player One is a thrill-a-second, nostalgic, explosive, eye-candy trip down memory lane. Blink and you’ll miss a reference. There is everything here from evil killer doll Chucky to Beetlejuice to the Iron Giant, key lines from the movie Excalibur and so, so much more!  This is one film begging for a Blu-ray rehash so we can freeze the picture and catch all of this stuff! Aech’s workshop alone is chocked full of ‘80’s visuals like Viper fighter ships from TV’s “Galactica” (the ‘80’s version) and Lone Star’s Winnebago from Spaceballs!

IOI's indentured think tank watches a questIOI's indentured think tank watches a quest

Being inside the Oasis, watching the avatars is like being on a ride rather than playing a video game. It’s exciting and colorful however. The real world sections are necessary for backstory and character development but not nearly as absorbing as the VR Oasis scenes. The real world actors, however, do a really nice job.  For tweens and teens not alive in the 1980’s, you might have to rely on pop culture references from your parents or even grandparents to “get” everything in the film. Some of the film, music and gaming references, however are so ingrained in our history that you might be familiar with them.

Parzival sees the shield over Castle AnorakParzival sees the shield over Castle Anorak

Spielberg has said that he purposely avoided paying tribute to any of his own films throughout the ‘80’s pop-culture “quests” the players go through. Too bad since Spielberg movies were a huge part of the 1980’s but makes sense and was a modest choice for the iconic filmmaker. Ready Player One is essential Spielberg from back in the day. We have a young, tightknit, diverse group of pals struggling against impossible odds. The film is full of heart and nostalgia while tackling a very modern question… do we escape our world via technology or engage to make change?  We go a strong four stars!

Ready Player One Movie Rating: 4

Ready Player One Movie PosterReady Player One PosterCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

See Ready Player One in theaters Thursday, March 29th

Have Your Say

Are you a big gamer? Are you hoping that virtual reality gets even more real soon? Do you remember or were you told much about 1980’s pop culture? Engage with other “players” and comment below!